NCAA ruling leaves SEMO even shorter

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

An already depleted Southeast Missouri State University men's basketball team received yet another blow Tuesday when expected starting point guard Kenny Johnson was declared ineligible by the NCAA for the first semester of play.

Johnson, a transfer from Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Mo., missed the Indians' two exhibition games as Southeast awaited word on an appeal by the school regarding Johnson's eligibility.

Tuesday, the NCAA satisfactory progress waiver committee denied the appeal. Although Johnson met all transfer eligibility requirements, he was found to be three hours short of satisfactory progress toward a degree.

"Typically, with a junior-college transfer, you just make sure he graduated from the junior college and that 35 percent of his degree program is completed," said Alicia Scott, assistant director of athletics at Southeast who serves as the school's compliance director. "In Johnson's case, he spent three years at the junior college and therefore he had to complete 50 percent of his degree requirements and he came up three hours short."

Johnson sat out one of his three years at Penn Valley with an injury.

Southeast initially felt Johnson had the needed 62 hours but a more extensive credit audit found an error that left Johnson with only 59 hours.

If Johnson successfully completes his classes this semester, he will become eligible prior to the Dec. 15 game at St. Louis University, meaning he will miss the Indians' first six games of the season, although he will be able to continue practicing with the squad.

"It's very disappointing, because we expected him to be eligible," said Southeast coach Gary Garner.

Only six scholarship players

The absence of Johnson means the Indians will have only six scholarship players -- and eight players total -- available for Friday's season opener against visiting Birmingham Southern.

Already slated to miss the opening contest only is redshirt freshman guard Derek Winans, who is forced to sit out the contest because of an inadvertent secondary violation of NCAA rules that was self-reported by Southeast. The minor violation stemmed from Winans having played in one Cape Girardeau City League basketball game during his redshirt season last year.

And junior forward Drew DeMond -- the Indians' only returning full-time starter from a year ago -- will miss Friday's game and perhaps even the Nov. 24 contest at Southwest Missouri State because of a broken knuckle on his left hand.

In addition, joining Johnson in being sidelined until the second semester are senior forward Monte Gordon -- the squad's lone senior -- and sophomore guard Justin Smith. Gordon is academically ineligible while Smith is ineligible under NCAA transfer rules after coming to Southeast from Arkansas State following last year's first semester.

"We've got some short-term problems right now, but when we get everybody back I think we'll have a good team," Garner said.

Without Johnson being available, true freshman Brett Hale will continue to be the Indians' starting point guard. Hale, a former standout at Dexter High School, started at the point during Southeast's two exhibition games and performed solidly by averaging 15 points and six assists.

"Brett has looked good," said Garner. "He didn't play the point in high school but we counted on him giving us some backup help there. This is going to be really good experience for him for the future."

Joining Hale in Friday's starting lineup will be junior forward Tim Scheer, sophomore forward Damarcus Hence, junior center Daniel Weaver and junior guard Demetrius King, with true freshman center Adam Crader the Indians' only other available scholarship player.

Also available to see at least some spot action are two walk-ons, freshman guard Kevin Roberts and sophomore forward David Shaw.

"It's going to be quite a challenge for us against a very good Birmingham Southern team, but we'll do the best we can," Garner said.

Birmingham Southern, a former NAIA powerhouse, went 17-9 last season during its second year of the NCAA transition period. The Eagles went 8-8 against Division I opponents, including an impressive 20-point victory at Texas A&M.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: